STONY BROOK, N.Y. — January 18, 2018 — Applied DNA Sciences today announced it will introduce a GeoTyping™ Beta Program, for the month of February, to brands and retailers interested in identifying country-of-origin in cases of cotton fiber substitution. Applied DNA is asking those interested to provide cotton samples suspected to contain cotton from Uzbekistan.
The GeoTyping™ Beta Program uses a known library of biomarkers that designate the DNA fingerprint of the cotton cultivar, including genus, species and one of 70 different geographic-cultivar-dependent genotypes. In 2017, Applied DNA identified two biomarkers for Uzbekistan cotton, and has continued to advance its DNA assays and broaden the validation of the GeoTyping program.
It is an expansion of Applied DNA’s end-to-end SigNature® T cotton traceability system, enabling the identification of the country of origin for cottons that may be substituted for the cotton specified on labels. For example, “Grown in America” cotton might be substituted by an inferior quality of cotton sourced off-shore. This technology ensures the country-of-origin is properly identified on labels, and can help to prevent the entry of cotton cultivated by human rights abusers.
“Our SigNature T cotton traceability system provides substantial advantages over current supply chain management authentication, such as RFID, data dots or ‘certificates of authenticity’,” said Dr. James A Hayward, president and CEO of Applied DNA. “Today, uncertainty of cotton supply chains remains if there is no way to physically trace the fibers to their source, and verify through DNA testing at yarn, fabric and finished goods. You cannot put an RFID on every single fiber and expect it to remain on the finished good. SigNature T combined with the GeoTyping Beta Program, provides full traceability that is seamless, economical and exact.”
“Our high-resolution cotton GeoTyping assays can provide proof of the sourcing crimes and human rights abuses in the CASH Investigation expose.” Hayward continued. “GeoTyping complements SigNature T tagging. Should non-compliance be suspected in a SigNature T-participating textile, GeoTyping serves as the means to identify the source of cotton fiber substitution.”
Recent reports have scrutinized hidden human rights abuses in global cotton supply chains. On November 28, 2017, on prime time French television, the CASH Investigative Team reported Uzbek cotton was handpicked by forced labor organized on a large scale — approximately 1 million people — by the Uzbek government. A significant amount of this cotton was shipped — some with missing or misleading statements of origin — to Bangladesh manufacturers that supply products to many U.S., U.K. and E.U. brands. The report also showed that suppliers who manufacture in South Korea, China and Europe also received Uzbek cotton.
Posing as a European importer, the CASH team also captured a conversation on hidden camera in which an Uzbek cotton product manufacturer offered to designate the country of origin — as opposed to Uzbekistan — that the buyer would prefer be stated on the origination documents. The Uzbek exporter stated this was a very common measure undertaken for companies purchasing Uzbek cotton products, and that the risk of being caught falsely stating that the product was manufactured in Bulgaria, for example, was almost non-existent.
Many of the potentially affected brands had publicly pledged to boycott Uzbek cotton in compliance with government laws, or were participating in global cotton initiatives that promulgate sustainability credits and ethical purchasing standards. Nonetheless, these brands were wittingly or unwittingly using manufacturers in their supply chain who were buying Uzbek cotton, providing the opportunity for cotton obtained via human rights abuse to enter their supply chains.
GeoTyping is meant to complement, not replace, SigNature T tagging. The cost of this assay is comparatively higher due to the equipment, reagents, and maintenance associated with maintaining the extensive and annually-changing library of genomes against which single samples must be compared. SigNature T tagging provides a method to trace any fiber tested in a dedicated supply chain back to the intended original source; it can also be assigned meaning such as year, gin, or other attribute not possible from cotton’s inherent DNA. Should non-compliance be suspected in SigNature T-participating textiles, GeoTyping can serve as the means to identify the source of cotton fiber substitution.
Applied DNA in concert with The Himatsingka Group utilizes an integrated cotton DNA authentication platform that incorporates a physical molecular tracer combined with genotyping. Together these technologies serve to preserve the integrity and purity of the cotton fiber at its precise point of origin – the date, time, place and the social and environmental practices used to produce the cotton. The collaboration with The Himatsingka Group provides for tagging at source, testing compliance at every step in the supply chain, and tracing of fabric and finished goods to the original source. This SigNature® T platform includes an IT tracking framework that is blockchain-ready, and permits the brand-owner, retailer or consumer to confirm the content and origin of the cotton fibers contained within their home textiles and garments. Nine cotton gins participate in the US.
“The Himatsingka Group is pleased with the commencement of the ‘GeoTyping’ project which will ensure global cotton mapping capabilities and further enhance transparency across the cotton value chain, thus bringing greater value to the consumer,” stated Shrikant Himatsingka, Managing Director & Group CEO, Himatsingka Group.
Posted January 18, 2018
Source: Applied DNA Sciences